Edger Allan Poe Best known for his poems and short fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston on Jan. 19, 1809, deserves more credit than any other writer for the transformation of the short story from tale to art. He for the most part created the detective story and perfected the psychological thriller. He also produced some of the most influential literary criticism of his time. Poe died Oct.
7, 1849. Poe’s parents were touring actors; both died before he was three years old, and he was taken into the home of John Allan, a wealthy merchant in Richmond, Va., and baptized Edgar Allan Poe. His childhood was uneventful, although he studied for five years in England between the years of 1815 through 1920. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia, however, he only attended for a year.
Although a good student, he ran up large gambling debts that Allan refused to pay. Allan prevented his return to the university and broke off Poe’s engagement to Sarah Elmira Royster, his girlfriend. Having no where to turn, Poe enlisted in the army. He had, however, already written and printed his first book at his own expense: Tamerlane and Other Poems, verses written in the manner of Byron.
Temporarily approved, Allan secured Poe’s release from the army and his appointment to West Point but refused to provide financial support. After six months Poe apparently contrived to be dismissed from West Point for disobedience of orders. His fellow cadets, however, contributed the funds for the publication of Poems by Edgar A. Poe. Poe next took up residence in Baltimore with his widowed aunt, Maria Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia, and turned to fiction as a way to support himself. In 1832 the Philadelphia Saturday Courier published five of his stories, all comic or satiric.
Poe, his aunt, and Virginia moved to Richmond in 1835, and he became editor of the Southern Literary Messenger and married Virginia, who was not yet fourteen years old. His contributions undoubtedly increased the magazine’s circulation, but they offended its owner, who also took exception to Poe’s drinking. In New York City, then in Philadelphia and again in New York Poe sought to establish himself as a force in literary journalism, but with only moderate success. He did succeed, however, in formulating influential literary theories and in demonstrating mastery of the forms he favored, highly musical poems and short prose narratives. The tale Poe considered his finest, “The Fall of The House of Usher,” which was to become one of his most famous stories. Virginia’s death in January 1847 was a heavy blow, but Poe continued to write and lecture.
In the summer of 1849 he revisited Richmond, lectured, and was accepted anew by the fiancee he had lost in 1826. After his return north he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street. In a brief obituary the Baltimore Clipper reported that Poe had died of congestion of the brain. The short story is a prose narrative that can be told or read on a single occasion.
It is believed to be the oldest form of prose fiction. Originating with primitive accounts of supernatural encounters, short narratives have existed in the form of parables, fairy tales, folk tales, legends, and fables throughout history. Edgar Allan Poe perfected what has come to be known as the classic form, as opposed to the later hard-boiled form developed in the 1920s. The classic form is the story in which a seemingly impossible crime has been committed and the detective relies on his or her superior perception, intellect, and often arcane knowledge to solve the mystery. The fall of The House of Usher Edgar Allan Poes, ” The Fall of the House of Usher” takes on the same basic literary themes as do most of his stories, suspense imparticular. However, he also uses the supernatural in this story as well.
Poes vast description enables the reader to place himself with the narrator, and get a better feeling of what is truly going on with the story. Using a nameless narrator allows the reader to use his imagination on to what the narrator looks like; is it the reader himself? Poe? or a figment of Poes imagination? That is to forever be unknown. However, it is also part of the reason Poes work has become the superlative of the short story. The story takes place mainly in the House of the Usher family, the exact location in is not mentioned, however, the surroundings seem very gloomy; the house itself is described as decaying, Poe obviously was trying to give the reader a mental image of a dark, immense, house, isolated from the world. Throughout the story, Poe’s imagery of the house and the inanimate objects inside serve to give a supernatural atmosphere to the story. By giving inanimate objects almost life-like characteristics, he is giving the house a supernatural quality.
This supernatural element serves to make Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” interesting and suspenseful in his treatment of the house’s effect on its inhabitants. It also allows the house to become, in my opinion, the most important character of the story, although it is inanimate. However, three tangible characters play the decisive role in this story: Lady Madeline, Roderick Usher, and the un-named narrator. Lady Madeline, the twin sister of Roderick Usher, is introduced as a character, however, never speaks a word throughout the entire story. In fact, she is absent from most of the book. Poe seems to present her as a ghostlike figure.
Lady Madeline had the tendency to roam the house, not taking notice to anything, or anyone. According to the narrator, Lady Madeline “passed slowly through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed [his] presence, disappeared. At the narrator’s arrival, she goes to her bedroom and falls into a catatonic state. The narrator, after the decision that she is not waking up, helps bury and put her away in a vault, however, with her reappearance, he flees. It becomes apparent that Madeline had fallen to the mental disorder which seems to plague the House of Usher.
Roderick Usher, the old child hood friend of the narrator, and head of the house, plays a rather distinctive role in the story. He comes from a rather wealthy family in which he now stakes claim to the family money. Roderick, as the narrator tells the reader, had once been an attractive man. However, his appearance deteriorated over time. At first meeting with Roderick, the narrator spoke of the radical change in his friends appearance, to the point in which “I doubted to whom I spoke.” Roderick’s altered appearance probably was caused by his insanity. The narrator notes various symptom from which he bases his opinion that Roderick is not mentally sane: excessive nervous agitation.
His actions were alternately vivacious and sullen, his voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision. Roderick’s state worsens throughout the story. He becomes increasingly restless and unstable, especially after the burial of his sister. He is not able to sleep and claims that he hears noises.
Generally, Roderick is an unstable man, his capability to remain sane is far gone at the point in which he is introduced. The narrator, although he remains nameless, appears to be a man of common sense. He shows his good heartedness in going to help an old child hood friend, whom he has lost contact with prior to the letter sent by Roderick. With his arrival to the house, he observes Usher and concludes that his friend has a mental disorder.
He looks for natural scientific explanations for what Roderick senses. The narrator’s tone throughout the story suggests that he cannot understand Usher. Oddly enough, it becomes obvious in the beginning of the story that the narrator is superstitious. When he looks upon the house, even before he met Roderick Usher, he observes “There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition.
” When he and Roderick go down to bury Madeline, he speculates that she may not be completely dead yet. However, rather than mentioning his suspicion to his friend, he remains silent and continues the burial. The narrator comes across as more of a practical man, trying to dismiss strange occurrences as coincidence, or natural occurrences. For example, when Roderick claims that there are ghosts in the house, the narrator feels fear too, but he dismisses Roderick’s and his own fear by attributing them to a natural cause. In the end, this fear finally overcomes him. The three characters of course are unique people with distinct characteristics, but they are tied together by the same type of mental disorder.
All of them suffer from insanity, yet each responds differently. Lady Madeline seems to accept the fact that she is insane and continues her life with that knowledge. Roderick Usher appears realize his mental state and struggles very hard to hold on to his sanity. The narrator, who is slowly but surely contracting the disease, wants to deny what he sees, hears, and senses. Unlike the other two characters, however, he escapes the insanity that is, The House of Usher.
In The Fall of the House of Usher has an unusual conflict occurring. Unlike most stories, the conflict does not fall between to animate objects, instead it falls between man, and a inanimate object, a house. Although the conflict is not coming from the house itself, however, more the supernatural beings which inhabit it. They do, however, reflect themselves upon the house. In this case, the house and its beings which inhabit it, reign over the characters.
In the story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe explores the inner workings of the human imagination but, at the same time, cautions the reader about the destructive dangers which can result from it. When fantasy suppresses reality, as in Roderick’s case, what results is madness and the decay of mental stability. Madeline’s return and death reunites the twin natures of their single being. The focus of this story is the narrator’s reaction to and understanding of these strange events. To look into the dark imagination where fantasy becomes reality is to evoke madness and loss of stability. The narrator has made a journey into the unknown world of the mind and is nearly destroyed by it.
The Masque of The Red Death The story covers a period of approximately six months during the reign of the Red Death. The action takes place in the deep seclusion of the main charactor, Prince Prosperos castle, in which he has invited the higher standing people of his village. Here these people will stay until the Red Death has passed the town by. In party, food, wine and dancing, they will all live, while the lower class townspeople die.
The masque takes place in the imperial suite which consisted of seven, very distinct rooms. This story has no characters in the usual sense which stand out in order to give the story a more in-depth view to the characters . The only character whom speaks is Prince Prospero. His name suggests happiness and good fortune, however, ironically that is not the case.
Within the Prince’s abbey, he has created a world of his imagination with masked figures that reflect his own personal tastes. These dancers are all a product of the Prince’s imagination, Poe refers to them as “a multitude of dreams.” Even when the “Red Death” enters, Poe refers to this character as figure or a mummer who “was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave.” The conflict in this story is very obvious. On the surface it is apparent that conflict is between the “Red Death” and the people within the castle. However, an underlying conflict can be seen if approached correctly. In my opinion, the conflict can be seen as one between those who feel that their lives are more precious then others, therefor they try to escape death by secluding themselves from those with less money and lower social status. I find the theme of this story to be the most noticeable of all compared to other works of Poe.
Poe, without question, is trying to show that no one escapes death. Human happiness, as represented by Prince Prospero, seeks to wall out the threat of death. Death comes like a thief is the night, without warning. Obviously, this is shown in the story, for no walls, money, or time was going to save these people from …